Friday, November 11, 2005

Book Review: No Other Name

One of the most persistent questions asked of Christians by non-Christians and Christians alike is What will happen to those people who have never been evangelised? John Sanders tackles this question in his book No Other Name: An Investigation into the Destiny of the Unevangelized. The book is an outstanding survey of all the different theological options and examines each view objectively and fairly. Sanders begins by carefully formulating the issue, defining the question carefully, providing a justification for attempting to answer the question, and exploring the role of control beliefs on theological conclusions. The question of the destiny of the unevangelised is important because it concerns the 'vast majority of human beings who have ever lived [who have] never heard the good news of grace regarding the God of Israel and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.' In investigating the question, Sanders surveys two extremes: restictivism and universalism. Restrictivism, in various forms, concludes that anyone who has not explicitly heard about Christ is damned and lost. Universalism asserts that, ultimately, every single human being will be saved. Sanders explores these two extremes in depth, looking at the variations of each, providing the key texts used by proponents to support their view, the major theological considerations, examples of leading defenders, an evaluation, and a historical bibliography for further research. The final section of the book explores various views that affirm salvation as universally accessible which he generically calls wider hope views. Some theologians propose that salvation is universally accessible either before or after death. In other words, every person is somehow given the opportunity to accept or reject salvation. This means that access to salvation is universal but some may still choose to reject the offer. Sanders concludes with his own view which he calls inclusivism and which argues that salvation is accessible to all people apart from evangelisation. John Wesley, C S Lewis, and Clark Pinnock are just a few of the growing number of modern theologians arguing for this view in some form or other. The view that is adopted on this question has implications for mission and pastoral care. Each of these implications are explored in the book. Sanders has also included an appendix on the question of infant salvation and damnation. Throughout the book, Sanders' critique is careful and fair despite the fact that he declares his own favoured view. It is clearly and articulately argued with a wealth of information on each view. This book should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in the issue of the salvation of those who have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel. Related Links

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